AVANCE Inc. (AVANCE) has been awarded a $7.4 million grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to operate Head Start and Early Head Start programs in the Texas counties of Starr and Zapata, expanding services AVANCE currently provides in the Rio Grande Valley.

With this grant AVANCE will serve 592 children in Starr and Zapata Counties, through full-day, center-based Head Start and Early Head Start services for children ages 0-5 years, as well as home-based services for up to 36 pregnant women. In addition to providing and supporting early childhood education and development, AVANCE’s holistic approach includes coordination of an array of services to address the physical, mental, and emotional health of children and their families.

“Creating equitable outcomes for under-resourced parents and children has always been central to AVANCE’s work,” said Dr. Teresa Granillo, AVANCE CEO. “We’ve been part of the Rio Grande Valley community for nearly 30 years, so this Head Start program will grow from strong roots. The AVANCE Head Start program is a galvanizing force for children and families.”

AVANCE partnered with community organizations and local school districts on the design of the program to ensure it meets the needs of area families and maximizes local resources for children.

“Head Start plays an indispensable role for families across South Texas, creating better health outcomes, higher graduation rates and higher rates of academic and professional success in our community,” said Congressman Henry Cuellar. “This federal funding will help deliver tools needed to create a strong start for our children and families in Zapata and Starr counties. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue to fight for federal investment in our children’s success and consequently, our country’s future success. I want to thank CEO of AVANCE Dr. Teresa Granillo and the rest of her team for their dedication to improving our children’s opportunity to succeed in school and in life.”

AVANCE has also partnered with Shine Early Learning to support the implementation of high-quality, high-impact Head Start and Early Head Start programming in the Starr and Zapata service areas. Shine Early Learning has successfully helped expand, operate, and increase child outcomes in early childhood programs across the country. “It is an honor to work with AVANCE, a model for two generational programming, to expand its impact in the Rio Grande Valley and build on its track record of exemplary service and deep partnerships,” said Henry Wilde, Shine Early Learning CEO.

AVANCE has provided services directly in the Rio Grande Valley since 1992. With this grant AVANCE will serve a total of 764 children and families from Hidalgo, Starr, and Zapata counties with evidence-based, culturally responsive, high-impact parent education and early childhood education programming.